26 February 2024
Beadman: Saintly's Orrsome finale
11 February 2022
It might be 25 years on, but Darren Beadman can still vividly recall Saintly’s barnstorming win in the 1997 C.F. Orr Stakes, in what proved to be his final race.
Beadman guided the Bart Cummings-trained chestnut to his triumphs the previous spring in the Cox Plate and Melbourne Cup, however, he was unsure whether the ‘horse from heaven’ would ever race again following an ill-fated trip to Tokyo for the Japan Cup, where he suffered badly from travel sickness.
“He looked like death warmed up in Tokyo,” Beadman recalled.
The signs were more positive though upon his return to Australia, as he built up towards his autumn kick-off in the Orr.
“It was always going to be a bit of a question mark whether he did come back, but on the track in the mornings he was doing his usual, running good times and giving everyone a very good feel,” Beadman said.
The seven-time Sydney champion jockey admitted that he did have his concerns leading into the Orr about Saintly’s ability to handle the tricky circuit at Caulfield, a track that he’d never raced at before.
“Caulfield, for a horse of his stride and his racing pattern and profile, doesn’t really allow them to perform at their best but he was a horse that you had to keep balanced,” Beadman explained.
“I basically went into that race giving the horse confidence out of the barriers and up to the first corner at the top of the hill, and just let him do the rest.”
Sent out as a short-priced favourite for the 1400-metre Group 1, Beadman settled Saintly in a midfield position, with the pace proving to be genuine.
“At the half-mile, I thought I was some chance,” he said as he reflected on his thoughts in the run that day.
“Around the corner, I was a little bit concerned because they’d really skipped away, as they do at Caulfield, and he wasn’t a horse that you could roll into the corner and try and bustle, you had to just let him go through his gears.
“Once I switched him out from behind the pack, he mowed them down.”
In the final 150m, Saintly produced a phenomenal finishing burst to prevail by more than a length, impressing both those on track and Beadman’s rivals.
“I remember Brent Thomson, after the race, he rode the second horse (Cut Up Rough), he was mesmerised by how my bloke finished off,” he said.
“He said nothing could have beaten him the way that his horse let down, how quick he was going over the last 100m, it just blew him away. That was the type of horse he was.”
The Orr would end up being Saintly’s swansong from racing, as 10 days later, he bowed a tendon at trackwork and would never race again.
In the space of 12 months, Beadman guided the chestnut gelding to G1 glory in the Australian Cup, Cox Plate, Melbourne Cup and the C.F. Orr Stakes, but believes that the racing public didn’t get to see the very best of Saintly.
“I think he still had plenty more to offer, given that he was a late bloomer,” Beadman said.
“It was unfortunate with him being unsound. I know it’s pretty hard to top a Melbourne Cup and a Cox Plate but he’s the type of horse that probably could have gone on and won another one or two.”
A superstar of the saddle, Beadman sat on some of the modern-day greats of Australian racing and pointed out one particular attribute that made Saintly unique.
“I’ve never ridden a horse that you feel so far away from his head, riding him, he just had the longest rein of a horse I’ve ever ridden and that’s what gave him the stride that he had,” he said.
“He was a beautifully natured horse, and he gave you his all.”
Saintly was purchased as a tried horse by DGR for AUD$100,000 after winning his first race as a two-year-old in 1995.
Story by Racing.com – Edward Sadler